MILLIONAIRES ON MEDICAID?
Believe it or not, a wealthy entrepreneur such as Donald Trump can transfer all of his assets, wait the applicable lookback period and have his long term nursing home care costs paid by Medicaid. Clearly, this would be an abuse of the system which is designed to protect seniors who are unable to afford the costs of long term care. However, it would be entirely legal.
The critics of the current Medicaid system will point to abuses of the system where millionaires have transferred their assets to other family members to qualify for Medicaid. This does happen but these types of cases are few and far between. As a practical matter, wealthy individuals can pay their own way in nursing homes or can afford the Long Term Care Insurance premiums which are out of the reach of most middle class seniors.
Ask any elder law attorney and you will hear that most Medicaid applications are made by middle class hard working individuals. It is not unusual to see asset transfers and Medicaid qualification where one elderly spouse must go into a nursing home and the other elderly spouse must try to survive alone in the community. This type of transfer is completely legal and could hardly be considered an abuse of the system.
The overall problem lies with the health care system in this Country. Most people have health insurance which will cover the costs of hospitalization after a major accident, serious surgery and other catastrophic matters which costs may run into the millions of dollars. Health insurance generally will not help an individual with dementia or someone who has suffered a stroke or a broken hip and can no longer live on their own.
Our health care system is based on luck of the draw with respect to certain ailments. If you are “lucky” enough that your ailment requires open heart surgery, you will be covered by insurance and your family will not be impoverished by your health care costs. On the other hand, if you are unlucky and suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, your insurance will not help and your family could be faced with the burden of financing your long term care.
There are definite abuses of the system; however, in our experience, the vast majority of individuals qualifying for Medicaid are truly deserving of this governmental assistance. The families of hardworking Americans who live within their means and who save for retirement should not be penalized. Until a health care system is put into place which will not discriminate based upon the type of ailment, medical assistance should be available to all who truly need it.